Weighty Matters

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Reality Perspective

The last week have readjusted my perspective on how I was working my program and my recovery for the last 18 months or two years.  It has provided me with a strong and much needed reality check.

While I knew that I was eating healthier and working out more, I didn’t truly see that I was not following my own recovery program as closely and vigilantly as I did in the first two years after weight loss surgery.  In my delight over all of the positive changes I’d achieved and the new, great things I was enjoying, I didn’t see my own denial.

Ricocheting around on a food plan when on already has a screwed up metabolism does not foster an environment for success.  Somewhere along the line, I started making too many excuses and not owning enough responsibility for my own actions.  “Everything in moderation” can still be a reasonable approach, as long as the “moderation” part remains reasonable.  In my case, it did not when it came to processed carbs, refined sugars and other foods that do not contribute to my recovery and health but absolutely add to my weight.

I’m not going to beat myself over the head with the club of blame.  I’m a flawed human being with an eating disorder, an insidious disease that clouds my reasonable thinking among other things.  It is what it is.  Rather, it was what it was.  What matters is what I know today, now, and how I use it for positive action as I move forward.

Don’t think for a minute that a week of success has me thinking that I’ve got this thing all under control.  That would be a myth and very dangerous thinking.  I believe that if I continue to work my tools and look at the plan and my eating choices with painstakingly precise care, I can remain abstinent one day at a time.  I know that I am not ready to never again eat pasta or a piece of cake, but I am absolutely willing to stick to a structure and a plan where these things and their relatives are not every day choices.

I want recovery of all types – mental, emotional, and physical.  I know that I need to hold on to this recent reality check and use it effectively moving forward.

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Emotional Impact of Carb/Sugar Abstaining

Two days into the two weeks of no grains, no refined sugar phase.  I am relieved that I am not feeling hunger and am not “white-knuckling” to hang on between meals.  So far I haven’t experienced big physical cravings either.  Thank goodness I’ve avoided that horrible, “I need a piece of bread right now or it could get ugly!” feeling.

I believe the reason that I’m not having these negative reactions is because I’m still getting some healthier carbs and sweetness from beans, legumes, veggies and fruit.  Plus, there is something wonderful to the “mouth feel” of quality fats added to a meal.

Physically, things are going well.  However, my disease has three components – physical, mental/emotional, spiritual.  Last night, I started to go through some emotional reactions that were stronger than I would expect on a “normal” day.  In retrospect, the influencing activity was sort of silly, or maybe I just describe it as such now because I’m viewing it through a clearer lens.  Here’s what happened.

I had a very hectic day at work, then ran home to eat dinner and get to Tai Chi class.  Unfortunately, in my rush, I forgot to change footwear to the shoes that I usually wear when doing Tai Chi.  Believe it or not, shoes matter.  We do a lot of pivots and other steps and, depending on the floor surface, the amount of tread on the bottom of your footwear can really affect how well you can do the moves, keep balance, etc.

When I’m home or at the beach, I actually prefer to do Tai Chi in bare feet, but that was not an option on the floor where we hold class.  I also wasn’t wearing socks, or I would have just taken the shoes off.

Anyway… the tread of the shoes I was wearing did not glide smoothly so my pivots and turns were hampered.  The shoes weren’t as stable in design as the ones I normally wear which also affected my balance, particularly on my bad knee.  A class that I usually love with its calming, flowing movements turned into one challenging chore after another.

Maybe it was the lack of cooperation between shoes and floor or the fact that I started to stress about my less-fluid-than-normal execution of the moves, but my body began to stiffen up — particularly that bad, weaker knee.  This increased my frustration.

About two thirds into the class, I was an internal mess.  Cranky, bitchy, upset, pissed off at my physical limitations — all negative.  At the very end, on the last sequence of moves that we were practicing, my knee locked, the plates of bone that kiss each other rubbed just the wrong way and hurt a lot.  I couldn’t finish the moves and had to walk off the floor.

At that point I was so internally upset that all I wanted to do was get the hell out of class and go home to an ice pack and ibuprofen.  I had a hard time not blowing past people who were trying to talk to me — people whom I like and am friends with.  I know that the few sentences I uttered were abrupt.

I got out of the building, into my car, drove out of the parking lot and started to cry.  It was awful.  I didn’t keep crying the short drive home but was just in a miserable and sad mood at that point.  When I got to the house, I knew that I had to put in work prepping meals to eat today, and I was entitled to my evening dessert.  Honestly, I was a little afraid to be around food at that point for fear that I’d fall off the wagon and eat compulsively to try to make myself feel better.  Yes, I know that’s completely inappropriate thinking because compulsive eating really doesn’t ever make me feel better.  It’s one of the lies that my disease tells me.

Thankfully, I was still wearing the bracelet that I’ve designated as my helpful talisman for this endeavor.  (As suggested in the Always Hungry book.)  Before I opened the fridge door, I looked at the bracelet and tapped it.  I purposely tried to connect with my reasons for wanting to stay on program and remain abstinent.  That simply action – the tap and reconnect – helped me step back from the edge of overwhelming emotion.  I was able to take a few deep breaths, calm my thoughts and try to look at what was going on.  About then is when I realized that the swingy emotions could be a result of the cold turkey abstaining from processed carbs and refined sugar. Having the realization calmed me down a little more  I sat quietly for a few moments with an ice pack on my knee and worked on settling myself even further.  Before long I was no longer emotionally ricocheting and the desire to bury my feelings with food had eased.

I went into the kitchen and prepared my planned dessert and then sat down at the table and ate it slowly while savoring the taste, texture and mouth feel.  After that, I felt like I could tackle the food prep tasks and have everything ready for a good day today.  Before settling into watch some television later on, I wrote emails to the Tai Chi friends and apologized for rushing off, citing the knee pain and need to treat it.

By the time I went to bed, I was back on an even keel and got a good night’s sleep.

This was a valuable experience for me.   From the beginning of letting the emotional reactions rule to acknowledging the impulse to eat to working through the process without eating, all the way to bringing myself back down, I re-learned a valuable lesson.  No matter what, I can be stronger than the compulsion.  I don’t have to eat, no matter how strongly compelling the urge.

I also learned again that processed carbs and sugar can be addictive so getting away from them can wreak a little havoc.  However, that havoc is temporary.  It doesn’t, and won’t, control my life.

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Hello! It’s Me.

Thank you so much for missing me, folks!  I’m so sorry that I went MIA for the beginning of 2016.  After my last post on New Year’s Eve, I feel like I hit the ground zooming at warp speed for the first two weeks.  Those first 14 days were completely wrapped up in several work projects that required maximum attention, focus, and extra hours.  I usually write my posts at night after dinner but there were so many nights where I was barely capable of babbling to my dog I was so tired.  Composing my thoughts and putting them into a coherent thought? Totally beyond my abilities.

The second two weeks of January I traded the stress of work for a fabulous vacation in Hawaii.  But even before I jetted west, I began the time off with a great Garth Brooks/Trisha Yearwood concert in Sunrise and a night in NYC to see Les Miserables.  (I planned that Broadway trip specifically to see the amazing Welsh tenor Alfie Boe perform as ValJean.  Unfortunately, he got sick and didn’t appear, but we still had a great time.)

The very next day, my friend and I boarded the plane to really start the vacay.   You know, so many times you put strong focus on what you’ll do and what you want that you can really build up super high expectations.  It’s not surprising that very often the reality falls short.

I’m delighted to say that didn’t happen to us.  Hawaii was everything that we’d dreamed up, hoped for, and planned about.  Highlights included doing a night snorkel to see giant manta rays, more snorkeling and whale watching, hiking some parks and just enjoying ourselves and relaxing in one of the most beautiful places in the world.  I love, love, love Hawaii and can easily see myself visiting and exploring the state every few years, if I can arrange the time and finances.  Sometime several years in the future after I retire, I’d like to spend most of a winter there.  Maybe I’ll get a temporary job as a naturalist on a whale watching boat!

Once we returned from Hawaii, I barely had time to do laundry and catch up at work before repacking for a week in Mexico for an industry meeting.  Very brain intensive and busy with long days of meetings, but the facilities who were close to the meeting hotel were wonderful hosts and arranged some fun evenings.  My boss and I also extended our trip by a day just so we could relax a little after the busy week and we had a chance to do something special.

I’ve been home now for two weeks and I think… think… that I’m caught up.  Even though one trip was vacation, being away three out of four weeks took me out of myself.  I’ve needed some time to decompress, readjust, and reconnect with my life.  I believe I’ve accomplished that now.

Amid the jetting around, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and studying on myself, my health, and my recovery.  One thing that I have noticed is a definite increase in pain and stiffness in my problem knee – the right one.  Even with my dedicated rowing exercises and other fitness activities, it is definitely weaker and less steady than my left knee.

Although I have not gained weight since September, I haven’t lost any either.  Maintaining is more positive, but it isn’t enough for me.

I am hungry for good health and determined to optimize my physical condition.  There have been times in recent weeks when I was almost resigning myself to going back to the orthopedic specialist to discuss whether it’s time for a knee replacement.

Fortunately, I big dose of truthiness hit me.  I cannot appropriately assess the condition and future capability of my knee until I take off the 50 pounds I’ve been wanting to shed.  According to a Harvard Medical article, the force on your knees when walking on level ground is roughly 1 1/2 times your body weight.  (More force when going up an incline like stairs.)  So, someone who weights 200 pounds puts 300 pounds of pressure on his or her knees.  Even a 20 pound weight loss would reduce that pressure by 30 pounds and so on.  If I lose 50 pounds, I’m reducing the impact on my knees by 75 pounds!  That’s a big improvement.  I can practically hear my knee joints begging, “Yes please.  Do it.”

As we know, losing weight is not easy, even for those of us who have had weight loss surgery.  I’ve realized for a while that years of an eating disorder have screwed up my metabolism.  However, I’m accustomed to seeing results when I follow a plan.

I am not seeing those results, which absolutely ramps up my frustration and increases the difficulty I have in remaining on a plan.  It is very confusing.

However, I have hope.  In January, I heard about a book called Always Hungry? by a well known endocrinologist, researcher and professor of nutrition at Harvard.  I started reading about it and then bought the book to read in depth what this doctor had to say.  When he talked about how many traditional approaches to weight loss end up confusing our bodies and triggering the exact opposite reaction in our fat cells than what we want, he did it in such a way that it made sense.  At risk of oversimplying, he advocates cutting way back on processed carbohydrates (particularly white flour/non whole grains, white sugar, white potatoes, and those families of foods), saying yes to whole fats and healthy fats, going for lower glycemic load, not just glycemic index, and not drastically restricting calories.  He claims that with his approach, one can conquer cravings, retrain fat cells and efficiently lose weight.

Disclaimer:  That really is a vast oversimplification of the doctor’s ideas, which he has based on research, studies and experience.  I truly don’t want to do him an injustice.  Please, if interested, go read up about it yourself, okay?

So, Dr. Ludwig said a lot that I found interesting.  I freely admit that he also won a great deal of my interest when he made the differentiation between the white bread/white potatoes/white pasta/white rice type of carbohydrates and carbs found in beans, legumes, fruit and some other veggies.  When he said that eating good quality dark chocolate  was not a diet sin, I wanted to applaud.

Anyway, after studying the book and his plan, I’ve decided to give it a try.  I just finished the seven day preparation phase.  I did a massive clean out of my pantry and refrigerator.  Not that they were loaded with inappropriate foods, but there were some in there.  I actually found a lot more items that needed to get tossed because I’d gone way past their expiration dates. Armed with the extensive shopping list, I loaded up lots of ingredients to prepare the recipes that the doctor includes in his book.

I have to admit that it feels a little strange to buy whole milk, real cheese, and Greek yogurt that isn’t fat free.  Don’t get me wrong; the plan does not advocate eschewing bread but eating all of the bacon that I want.  He really is much more balanced.

The first two weeks are the most restrictive.  No grains, starchy vegetables, tropical fruits, high carb sweets and snack foods, and sugar except for the small amount in high quality 70% minimum cacao dark chocolate.  Every meal will have high quality protein, fat and acceptable carbs from non-tropical fruit or beans, legumes, etc.

I’m pretty psyched up for the effort.  For me, having the right attitude is so important.  I need the mental and emotional oomph to power through the physical effort.  I’m pretty confident in my ability to do this, one meal at a time.  Honestly, I’m less concerned about craving bread than I am about having to give up the sole packets of sweetener that I use in my cups of tea.

Lunch and snacks are all prepared and waiting in the fridge for the morning when I’ll put them into my lunch bag.  I have what I need to cook dinner for the next three nights, too.  I’m committed to following the eating plan and also doing the other things that he suggests, such as getting enough sleep, doing some stress relaxers each day, and so on.  I’ve even designated my “Big Why” amulet.  The doctor talks about identifying our Big Why – specific goals that are the motivation for losing the weight and changing our lives.  Right now, my Big Why is to be healthy and, more specifially, relieve knee pain.  My amulet is a bracelet that my good friend gave me that says “Strong is the New Skinny”.

When I want to reach for that Splenda packet, I’ll look at the bracelet again.

So… that pretty much sums up what’s been going on for me for the first two months of 2016.  I promise to keep you all posted on how things are going.  I hope that all of you are doing great.  Thanks for checking in!

(Folks, I tried to include some photos from my recent trips, but Chrome kept freezing on me and I gave up after three tries.  Sorry!)

 

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Food Calling

Where did December go?  I sort of saw the days fly by but I was so darned busy I couldn’t latch on for the trip.  In addition to being ultra busy with work, I also managed a week’s vacation up to the Northeast for my annual holiday time with family and friends.  I wish I could say that I also maintained my good eating habits while I was away, but I don’t want to lie, particularly not on my own blog.  Holiday cookies might as well be crack.  That’s how addictive they are for me.

Emotionally, I had a wonderful time away.  I love spending time with so many people whom I deeply love but whom I don’t get to see so often.  Physically, between the cookie binges and not working out for a week, I ended up feeling pretty crappy by the time I was on my way back to Florida this past Sunday.

I think it’s a good thing that stubbornness is part of my DNA and mental makeup.  I refuse to give up on myself.  I immediately began eating more cleanly, sticking to my plan, and even drinking more water.  Yesterday morning, I was on a rower at 7 a.m.   It’s only been two days and I already feel better.  I always try to remember that each day is the opportunity for a new beginning.  I don’t have to repeat bad behavior.  I can always choose differently.

My boss and friend and have shared a couple of discussions about this the last two days.  At some point yesterday I said that it isn’t really about the food for me.  It’s about my behavior with food.  Apparently that stuck with her and she’s been looking at, or raising her awareness of her behavior too.  We talked some more today about what it feels like to have an eating disorder and why, when we know our goals and our desire to follow out plan and eat responsibly, we go off track.  “It’s like there is an alien being in my head sometimes,” I said.  “The alien takes over and I grab at food that I don’t want because the alien being wants it.”

The alien being is my eating disorder, of course.

She then, sort of plaintively, wondered why only the bad foods call to her.  “If I have the food around, it screams my name,” she said.  “Why don’t the good foods ever call me?”

That lead to more discussion about behavior and thinking about how we can set ourselves up for success.  I’m glad we had that talk because it put it all in the front of my mind and helped me later on.  Every year I end up shipping home a box with the gifts I’ve received.  The box arrived today and in it was a package of white chocolate and dark chocolate mixed with peppermint.  I unpacked the box, looked at the candy and thought, “No problem.  I’ll just have a nibble now and then put the rest in the refrigerator.  I’ll be okay.  I can control this.”

I honestly don’t know if that’s my ego talking or my misguided illusions.  I broke off a piece and ate it so fast that it barely registered.  I did go so far as to stick the rest in the fridge, but I also went back to the fridge to eat another piece of chocolate.

That simply would not do!  I knew that my eating disorder wouldn’t stop thinking about that chocolate until I’d returned again and again and, eventually ate it all.  I had a choice to make and, this time, I made the healthy choice.  I grabbed the box from the fridge and marched it to the outside trash cans.  Bingo — One large chocolate bar rendered unable to tempt me any more.

I texted the tale to my boss.  She texted back, “Well played.”

The chocolate called to me, but it got the wrong number.

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Holiday Sweets

Recently a local doctor wrote a letter to the editor for one of our hometown newspapers.  I used to use this doctor several years ago as my primary care physician.  She also had a sub-specialty of working with obese patients.  For a while she served as the county’s medical health chief, too.  The doctor has always spoken out about weight and health issues.

Her letter was an open and deliberate request to patients and anyone else who visits her office during the holiday season.  Bottom line, she asked that they not express their thanks to her and her staff with gifts of food.  She appreciates their appreciation and hoped that they would understand that sugary sweets, baked goods and the like are not healthy for her and her staff.

While she couched the request as a personal one for her practice, it was pretty clear that she expressed this through a letter to a newspaper so that she could emphasize a strong point to the public at large.  Obesity is a significant issue in our country.  Our society tends to celebrate with food.  We’re compounding our own collective problems.  I admire her for taking the stand and hope that she doesn’t get a backlash for it or accused of holiday food-Scroogery.

I know that when lots of food surrounds me, I have a really difficult time saying no to it.  We get a fair amount of sweet treats sent to our office this season, too.  It sits in the office kitchen calling to me and I struggle not to indulge.

There is, however, one company that always sends our president a smoked turkey.  We plan a lunch around it with different people bringing a few side dishes.  We end up making a far healthier celebratory event with the turkey as the center.

This year, I’m hoping for more savory, healthy snacks than sugar/fat/carb laden ones.  Sadly, I don’t expect anyone to send a holiday basket of fresh veggies, but maybe some fruit, or even cheese.  I could handle proteins and fruit in smaller batches.  Not being constantly beset by food temptations would definitely make my holidays sweeter.

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Changing My Mind is Okay

There are a lot of different things I could title this post.  Traditions Can Change; Abandoning Tradition; Choosing Wellbeing Before Cookies; Holiday Health.  They all came to mind when I opened up the window to start writing.  Here’s what’s going on.

I always travel to the Northeast to spend the Christmas holiday with my brother, sister-in-law and nephews, and also to see as many friends and other family members as possible.  A couple of weeks before I fly up, I ship my family’s gifts so I don’t need to lug them on the plane.  For the last few years, I also rekindled a family tradition of baking delicious Italian fig and date cookies.  My grandmother made them for us every year for all of my life that I can remember.  When she passed away, Mom and I continued the tradition.

Sometimes, I bake them once I get to my brother and sister-in-law’s house, but there isn’t going to be time this year.  So, I thought I’d make them today, seal them up really tight, and ship them with the presents.  (I know the cookies will not go stale if packaged correctly.  My grandmother once sent a batch from New Jersey to France when we lived there for a year.  They were perfect on arrival and this was in the days before overnight or even two-night shipping.

I added the ingredients to my weekly shopping list and off to the store I drove.  I even bought a new rolling pin and pastry mat to help with the baking.  That’s how fully engrossed in the holiday fa-la-la I was this morning, anticipating the process and reveling in continuing the tradition.

In my head, I had everything planned.  I could envision myself happily wrapping gifts while the aroma of melty-fig cookies perfumed my house.  Then, a funny unexpected thing happened on the drive home from the supermarket.  An alien thought entered my head that said, “You know what?  I don’t really want to bake those cookies today.”

This really surprised me and it triggered not only an internal debate, but also a scramble of different emotions.  Happiness that I acknowledged that I didn’t want to bake.  Guilt that I didn’t.  A healthy dash of, “Oh, but you should!” spiced the mix, sharpened by the trepidation of knowing that I would overeat samples of the cookies.

I went back and forth on the decision a couple of dozen times.  Bake, don’t bake.  Yes, no.  Do it, don’t.  Thankfully, when I pulled into the driveway, the wise voice overrode the clamor.  It said, “It’s okay.  You don’t have to bake the cookies, and you don’t need to feel bad that you don’t want to.  The family enjoys them but they aren’t holding their collective breath waiting for them.  What’s more, they might like the cookies but they love you.  They’ll be happier that you’re making the choice you need to make for yourself.”

That was the decision maker.  I’m in a good place right now with my food plan, eating, and exercise routine.  I know if I start baking today, I’m going to throw myself off.  Changing my mind about making cookies is not only okay, it’s the right, healthy choice.

I’m so glad that I listened to that first thought when it popped up and that I didn’t let the other thoughts and emotions overrule my instinct.

Holiday and family traditions are wonderful things, but they don’t take priority over healthy choices.  In fact, me making healthy choices is a new tradition in itself.

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Mental Relaxation

Having compulsive eating disorder weighs on more than one’s body.  It weighs on the mind and the spirit. I spend a lot of time thinking about the disease; hoping that I’ll stay on track and worrying that I won’t.  Then there’s the residual mental ass-kicking I deliver to myself when I mess up.  The thoughts and stress are almost as obsessive as the eating challenges.

This is one way that having a defined food plan truly benefits me.  When I pre-plan my choices and prepare, I don’t have to spend all day thinking about what I’m going to eat, stressing about each meal option, etc.

Just like the act of binge eating or any kind of compulsive eating can create other issues for me, when I am deep in diseased thinking, the stress bleeds over into other areas.  I start to worry and fret over other things in my life from work situations to managing routine daily activities at home.  I don’t fall apart and become ineffectual but I don’t sleep as well and I use more energy coping with things that I normally handle with ease.

It is a huge relief when I am not beset by the thoughts and emotions of compulsive overeating.  I am so much more at ease when I’m living in abstinence and recovery.  Right now I’m in that good, evenly balanced mental state.  I’m less stressed and more relaxed.

All in all it is a much better state in which to live.

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Post-Thanksgiving Post

Yesterday was a curious day for me but, ultimately, a successful one for which I am very grateful.  I did not have any plans to share a holiday meal with any friends.  A funny thing happens down here.  I think my different groups of friends assume that one of the other groups or couples have invited me to spend the holiday with them.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen this year.  One friend did invite me last minute to come for dessert later in the day.  Another friend/co-worker was in the same situation and we sort of half-heartedly said that if we had the energy or desire mid-day to go out to a movie together, we’d get in touch.  Neither of us did.

For about a week ahead of yesterday, I veered between feeling sorry for myself/lonely/resentful and being completely okay with the circumstances.  While I would have liked to be in a group of friends for the human contact and camaraderie, I really, really, really didn’t want the day to be about feasting and overeating.  Then again, I did experience some yearning for turkey, some of my favorite side dishes and the like.  I just worried over whether the emotions would send me into binge mode.

It was a dilemma for sure, but I approached it with a healthy mindset.  From the time I woke up, I was determined that I was going to make this a healthy day for myself.  I started out by taking Natty for a longer walk than usual.  The weather is gorgeous right now — sunny but cooler — and he and I both enjoyed ourselves.  Throughout the day, in between doing other things and watching football, I also did other exercises.  I worked out a little with light weights and also did some situps, pushups and planks.  At another time, I did a full set of Tai Chi.  (By the way, since the rowing gym is closed through the weekend, I did rowing classes Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.)

Our holiday meals always began with a fresh fruit cup.  (No, none of that canned stuff.  Everything fresh!)  I didn’t go full tilt with the full array of fruits Mom and I used to combine, but I cut up an orange, an apple and half of a banana and had it as a snack at lunch along with a  small salad.

Not knowing whether I’d end up at an afternoon movie, I had shopped to make myself a healthy but delicious Thanksgiving dinner.  I bought turkey thighs, a rutabaga, and yes some boxed stuffing.

Mashed rutabaga aka yellow turnip to some, is my favorite side dish.  It was a staple on our family Thanksgiving table.  Here’s the good news – it is a cruciferous vegetable, nutritious and delicious.  Although I put a little butter in it when mashing, I don’t overdo and I used skim milk.  This was, for me, a better choice than mashed potatoes.  I feel it also helped counter balance a little bit of stuffing.

Once it was determined that I was staying home, I really enjoyed preparing my meal.  I chopped up fresh herbs from my little garden to season the turkey and added chicken stock that I’d made and frozen to keep the meat moist while it roasted.  This also made for a delicious gravy after the fact.  I used more of the chicken stock in the stuffing, too.

When dinner was ready, I very carefully took appropriate portions instead of overloading my plate.  Even with the restricted stomach, if I put too much food on the plate at the outset, I tend to eat too much and then I feel sick and uncomfortable.  This ruins my enjoyment physically and emotionally.  I am really concentrating on continuing to train my eyes and my serving utensils to put the amounts I should eat… not what I would have eaten in years gone by.

I sat down and savored what I’d made for myself.  It was delicious and balanced.  I felt really good about how I’d planned and executed my holiday meal.

Now what about dessert, you might be wondering.  Yes, I’d put some thought into that as well.  I hate feeling deprived of dessert.  Emotionally, it’s unhealthy for me to feel deprived and often leads to me wanting more and then bingeing.  Last week, I researched and found a recipe for Pumpkin Souffle.  Very easy to make with a can of canned pumpkin, evaporated milk, two eggs and half a cup of sugar in the entire thing.  I counted up the calories.  Per serving, my souffle had only 180 calories.  As far as desserts go, this was a winner that I could absolutely fit into my meal plan.

I waited until my main entree settled a bit and then spooned out an appropriate serving and thoroughly enjoyed it.

All told, for me the holiday was a food win.  I feel really terrific about how sanely and carefully I planned, cooked and consumed my meal.  I’m also pretty darned please with the physical activity that I included in my day.  I took care of myself.

The result is that today I am not suffering from a food or binge hangover.  I feel good about myself and my recovery and am looking forward to building on this today.  I took the day off from work and have some fun activities planned.  I started with a healthy protein smoothie for breakfast.  Now Natty and I are going out for a walk.

I hope you all had a great day and are enjoying your Fridays.

 

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Operating on Faith

Sometimes it is really hard to not get frustrated or impatient.  (Remember the old joke, “I want patience NOW!”?)  I need to constantly remind myself that as long as I follow my food plan and continue to exercise, I will lose weight.

Have I mentioned that I am not a very patient person when it comes to my own endeavors and performance?  Yes, I know that I put an awful lot of pressure on myself.  Unfortunately, it’s a lifelong habit.

I’m used to turning over the physical stuff to my program and Higher Power.  It is much more challenging to let go of the mental and emotional things.  Every morning when I first wake up, I express my gratitude and I ask for help in remaining on my food plan and staying abstinent.  When I say abstinent, I know that I’m thinking about the act of abstaining from compulsive eating or binging.  Today I realize that I need to broaden that and ask for help in abstaining from certain thoughts.  Thoughts like, “I should have lost X number of pounds this week” or “If I do this, I should lose X amount of weight by X date”.   Those are only two examples.  There’s no end to what I can think up.

For today, I will keep working on having faith in program, Higher Power and myself.  For today, I will ask and be open to help in not getting caught up in my head so much and in not pressuring myself with expectations over which I have no control.  I am responsible for sticking to my food and fitness plans.  That’s the priority for me every day.

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Changing the Failure Mindset

I’ve been thinking of myself as a failure because I have not reached my goal weight, even almost four years after my weight loss surgery.  This mindset does mean things to me emotionally, mentally, spiritually and, ultimately physically.  It wreaks havoc with my eating disorder.  Anything that results in me feeling or thinking badly of myself can trigger disease-related eating and relapse.

For a couple of weeks, I was thoroughly depressed about the situation, much more so than I’ve been in years.  I was constantly caught up in failure feelings, beating myself up, joy-less in spirit, at least where my physical improvements and recovery were concerned.   I wanted to anesthetize the feelings and mood in carbs and sugar.  That all just made me feel worse.

Then, for some reason last week, I pulled out of it.  I recommitted to my program and got back in touch with feeling good about myself.  Positive feelings beget more positive feelings.  I went several days without a single starchy carb and wasn’t grabbing for handfuls of chocolate, other candies or other sugar-laden foods.  Even through the bad weeks, I’d continued with my kick-butt rowing classes but now I could note positive changes in my body shape, appreciate the increased strength, better range of motion and other benefits.

I felt powerful inside and out and took the time to really acknowledge and experience the upswing.

This led to me really investigating my mindset and laying out the reality check to sift and separate the truth from the distorted thinking.

These statements are false:

  • I’m a weight loss failure.
  • I can’t do this.
  • I’m weak-willed.
  • I’m unhealthy.
  • I suck.

These statements are true:

  • I have not reached goal weight.
  • I have lost and am maintaining a weight loss of around 140 pounds.  (I have never maintained a significant weight loss for this long a time!)
  • Sometimes I fall back into relapse eating.
  • More often, I eat sanely and on my recovery plan.
  • When eating sanely and on plan, I overall make far healthier food choices.
  • I am physically active and stronger.
  • I haven’t lost weight in total number of pounds in the last two months, but I know my overall fat-to-lean muscle mass ratio has improved.  There are fewer pounds of fat, more of muscle.
  • I am determined.

Looking at those lists, I am so happy to see that I know the lies from the truths.  I’m also happy to see that the positive list is twice as long.  It is amazing that positive thinking can lead to such positive change.  My mindset over the last week has completely changed for the better.  I’m not wallowing in despair or steeping my spirit in depression and sadness.  I have returned to celebrating the good, real, strong progress that I’ve made.

 

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